- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Everybody wants to talk about revenge except one of the guys to whom it’s supposed to matter most.

Four years ago, Zach Parise was front and center at the Vancouver Games as the United States vs. Canada emerged as the best rivalry in hockey. And as America’s captain this time around, Parise figures to be right back in the middle of things Friday, when the two powers renew their clash in a semifinal on the Olympic stage.

But first, the soft-spoken winger wanted to make sure people don’t get carried away.

“We,” he corrected a reporter Thursday, “didn’t let them win.”

Far from it, actually. With 24 seconds left in the 2010 gold medal game, Parise carved out a tying goal and briefly stopped Canadian hearts beating from Vancouver to Halifax. He celebrated memorably by throwing himself against the glass above the boards. But soon enough, the other skate dropped.

Less than eight minutes into overtime, Sidney Crosby beat U.S. netminder Ryan Miller, making sure bragging rights still belonged to the land that believes it invented the game.

“I don’t think at this stage of the tournament you need any extra incentive or any extra motivation,” Parise added. “But I know for the guys that were there in Vancouver, whether it’s from being reminded about it a lot when we’ve been here, it’s definitely in the back of our minds that we’d like to be on the winning side of that game.”

The same question would bubble up three or four times more before Parise’s half-hour session was done. And like so many other players on either side, Parise went out of his way to explain that the matchup is less blood feud than sibling rivalry. He joked that he might have watched the replay of that fateful goal in Vancouver more than once had things turned out differently.

But either way, genuine resentment is in short supply on either side.

The National Hockey League, after all, resumes regular-season play just four days after Friday’s game, and players from both teams will be back playing on the same team in some cases soon enough.

Still others were teammates in the past and some played together in college. A few more, like Parise - whose father J.P., played for several NHL teams and for Canada in the legendary 1972 Summit Series against the old Soviet dynasty - probably could have wound up playing for either side if they’d explored the options their parents’ lineage provided.

But the flip side is this: From the first faceoff until the last whistle, the ties that bind them will be looser than ever.

“It’s a pretty small hockey world, you feel like you’ve crossed paths with everybody at one time. … But once you play, all that goes out the window.

“I’ve played against teammates,” Parise added a moment later. “And trust me: They’ll hit me and do everything they can to not allow me to score or do anything. So there’s that understanding. It’s not a disrespect for a player. You still respect your teammate and everything once this tournament’s over, but you do what you have to do to win.”

How both teams plan to do that are not state secrets.

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